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Luxury cars gutted aboard ship ; fire dies down with little more to burn

A fire that raged through a cargo ship carrying thousands of expensive cars and was floating off the shore of Portugal’s Azores islands has died down, perhaps because there is little left to burn, according to a port official.

The Felicity Ace, which was carrying over 4,000 automobiles, including Porsches, Audis, and Bentleys, some of which were electric with lithium-ion batteries, caught fire in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday.

The 22 crew members on board were evacuated the same day.

“The fire has reduced in recent hours,” Joo Mendes Cabeças, captain of the nearest port on the Azorean island of Faial, told Lusa news agency, adding that there was probably little flammable material remaining to burn.

Cabeças told Reuters over the weekend that lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles were “keeping the fire alive,” adding that extinguishing it would require specialised equipment. It was unclear whether the fire was started by the batteries.

He also stated that the fire was encroaching on the ship’s fuel tanks.

“Our concern has been with pollution because the ship has enormous volumes of petroleum and vehicle batteries on board, but there have been no hotspots of pollution so far,” Cabeças told Lusa.

As the fire’s severity decreases, firefighting troops and experts may be able to board the vessel and prepare to tow it to Europe or the Bahamas, according to Cabeças.


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